Back before there were freezers and canning equipment, food dehydration was the method for solving food spoilage problems while maintaining its nutritional content. Dehydrating or drying food is one of humanity’s oldest ways of preserving food because it’s simple. Today, food dehydration blends these age-old techniques with new technologies that simplify the dehydrating process and make it more convenient.
What is the Purpose of Dehydrating Food?
The core principle behind food dehydration is this: remove as much moisture from the food as possible to stop the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. It can be done with meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits through the use of a dehydrator. When the foods are dried, it is preserved for future use while the nutrients are kept intact.
The practice of dehydrating food has been around even back in 12,000 BC, wherein the Middle East and Oriental civilizations were drying their food. The Chinese sun-dried their eggs, the Japanese dried fish and rise, and Indians sun-dried their meat.
Benefits of Making Dehydrated Food
Besides preserving food, dehydrating your own food has a lot of benefits. Here are some of them:
1. You can save money.
By dehydrating your food, you don’t need to wait for the proper season to enjoy nutrient-packed fruits and veggies at an affordable price. You can dry seasonal foods like cherries and pineapples so that you can have them regardless of the season. You know that off-season produce tends to be more expensive, so dehydrating is your chance to save pennies for the future. You can also save money by buying fresh food and bulk and drying them by yourself. Also, it will keep you away from the organic dehydrated food that costs too much for the quantity.
2. You can create different delicious and nutritious food.
A lot of delicious foods you can buy from the grocery store are not nutritious, and if you buy the organic kind, it can get pricey. Also, some store-bought dehydrated food may contain additives to improve flavor, but with ingredients, you may not like. If you dehydrate food yourself, here’s what you can do:
- Dried fruit chips or snacks made from bananas, apples, oranges, lemons, prunes, and pears
- Jerky from beef, chicken, salmon, or lamb
- Veggie chips from kale, zucchini, green beans, sweet potatoes, or carrots
- Fruit leathers made from pureed dried fruits
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Raw crackers and bread
- Crispy nuts and seeds
- Dried herbs and flowers
3. You can be sure that your food has no preservatives or chemicals.
When you buy dehydrated foods and snacks, you don’t always know its contents. There may be preservatives added to these processed foods that can extend the shelf life of the food. If you dehydrate it yourself, you know what’s in it, and you can give a healthier option for your family. Store-bought dehydrated foods can last many years, while home-dehydrated foods can be good for months to even a year.
Also, when you buy dehydrated fruits, there’s almost always sugar added. When you make it yourself, you may not need to add if you are controlling your sugar intake.
4. You can have a healthy, portable snack.
Takeout burgers and sandwiches are easy to eat on the go, but if you’re trying to cut back on junk food, you may have a hard time finding a healthy alternative to eat on the road. Healthy food is not always easy to take on-the-go. Aside from bananas, there isn’t much fruit or vegetable that needs no preparation, easy to eat, and won’t make a mess. But with dehydrated food, you can have a plastic bag on your lap full of snacks. It’s great as a snack for work and children’s lunches.
5. You can free up storage space.
Now, let’s talk about your pantry and fridge storage. Since drying shrinks the food, you won’t need a big space to store them anymore, unlike when you can freeze your food. Instead of storing food in a Tupperware or any bulky food container, you can get to store the same amount of food in a simple Ziploc plastic bag. If you’re thinking of long-term storage, you can go for plastic containers and vacuum-sealed bags.
6. You can help reduce food waste.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat are prone to spoilage. If you want to prevent food waste, dehydrate the foods you have that you will not yet eat soon. Dehydrating foods will enable you to enjoy them closest to their natural state.
7. You can get healthy food stock for emergencies.
From a natural disaster to a sudden loss of a job, you can never know what may happen. You have control over your level of emergency preparedness. And prepping doesn’t always have to mean stocking up on canned goods, crackers, and processed foods – you can keep a dehydrated fresh food along with your food supply. Besides drying individual foods, you can also dehydrate entire meals, so in case of emergencies like power shortage, all you have to do is to add water, and your food will be ready to eat.